With year-round high temperatures and less than two inches of rain on average a month, the desert town of Lancaster, Calif., just north of Los Angeles, seems like a great place for solar. But Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris isn’t taking any chances (which is exactly what you would expect from a mayor named R. Rex Parris).
Parris, a Republican, is “hell-bent on branding his sprawling Antelope Valley community not just as the solar capital of California but as the ‘solar energy capital of the world,’” according to Mother Nature Network.
The mayor is proposing a zoning change that would require houses built after Jan. 1, 2014, to include solar-power systems. Lancaster has long been a solar leader, but Parris is trying to take it to a whole ‘nother level, pending the city council’s vote.
The zoning changes would also streamline permitting for solar installations, and would implement a few other interesting requirements. For instance, as GreenTech Media reports, model homes in developments would have to display the kinds of solar available to different home designs, and developers building housing tracts in phases would need to build each phase’s solar capacity before moving on to the next phase.
Builders could also qualify by buying solar credits from other generating facilities, but they’d have to be within the city of Lancaster.
“I want to offer the builders some flexibility,” Parris told ReWire. “New developments require catchbasins for flood runoff, and the builders could put the solar panels there if they choose. Or they could use rooftops. Whatever works.”
“I believe global warming is going to be solved in neighborhoods, not by nations,” Parris continued. “I want Lancaster to be part of that.”
In an address at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi in January, the mayor acknowledged the flack he might get from the building industry: “We will just have to take the heat.” R. Rex Parris did not, in fact, drop the mic after that comment, but he really should have.